Be a fisher of men…

1. With your encouragement…

2 Cor. 1:3   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

Did you know that your difficulties and the comforts that followed from them may be for the purpose of witnessing to others, showing others the comfort to be found in Jesus Christ? We don’t reject suffering as being of the devil. We accept it as being from God and useful as an opportunity to witness to others about what we live for. Continue reading

Raising our children to be those of whom the world was not worthy (part 3)…

37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground (Heb. 11:37-38).

Of verse 38, the Puritan pastor John Owen writes:

Of this world it is said, that it was “not worthy” of those sufferers. It was not so in the ages and seasons wherein they lived; nor is so of them who suffer in any other age whatever. The world thinks them not worthy of it, or to live in it, to enjoy any name or place among the men of it. Here is a testimony given to the contrary, — that the world is not worthy of them. Nor can any thing be spoken to the greater provocation of it. To tell the great, the mighty, the wealthy, the rulers of the world, that they are not worthy of the society of such as in their days are poor, destitute, despised, wanderers, whom they hurt and persecute, as the “offscouring of all things,” is that which fills them with indignation. There is not an informer or apparitor but would think himself disparaged by it. But they may esteem of it as they please; we know that this testimony is true, and the world one day shall confess it so to be.

Reflecting on this verse, Owen makes this observation:

It becomes us to be filled with thoughts of and affections unto spiritual things, to labor for an anticipation of glory, that we faint not in the consideration of the evils that may befall us on the account of the gospel.

Parents, how are you cultivating the above mindset in yourself and then in your children? Continue reading

Raising our children to be those of whom the world was not worthy (part 2)…

If we believe the coming generation will face more hostility from our pagan culture, how do we switch gears from raising them for worldly success—as we have been doing, let’s be honest—to raising them for warfare, suffering, and loss? (We should have been doing that all along!) Here’s my list (Add others in the comments, please):

1. Discipline your children with the rod and with the Word. Proverbs 22:15, 23:13, 29:15. Love them through discipline (Prov. 13:24). Want them to have a right regard for authority?—one where they know that the ultimate authority is God whose throne is in heaven? Show your children your own fear of God and submission to His will in this task. Rebuke them and train them with the Word. Spank and speak. Give the no and the yes. Punish for sin and go to God’s Word to show them the right path.

Remember, we are no longer training them for success in the world, we are training them for success in battle… Continue reading

Missing the elephant in the womb…

Sad story in The New York Times this morning…made sadder by the blindness of many of the participants. Amazingly, the hospital and her administrators, who are obeying the laws of the State of Texas, are on the side of the angels this time.

Update: Now baby Munoz’s life is in the hands of the courts. Mr. Munoz has sued the hospital

This morning, Munoz took another step toward fulfilling JPS’ wish for clarity, filing suit in Tarrant County District Court. In the suit, he says the hospital has diagnosed her as “brain dead” and that all life-sustaining treatments should be stopped.

Keeping her alive “makes no sense, and amounts to nothing more than the cruel and obscene mutilation of a deceased body against the expressed will of the deceased and her family.”

Update 1.22.14: The lawyers for Mrs. Munoz’s husband are now claiming the baby is not healthy and so deserves to die. A hearing is set for this Friday in Fort Worth:

A state district judge will hold a hearing Friday to consider removing a pregnant Haltom City woman from life support after she was kept alive by John Peter Smith Hospital against her family’s wishes.

State District Judge R.H. Wallace will hear a request by the family of Marlise Muñoz to have JPS immediately cease further medical procedures and remove her from any respirators, ventilators or other “life support” and release her body to the family for burial.

Please be praying for Judge Wallace and for the life of the baby.

Update 1.24.14: The judge ordered the hospital to terminate the life-support. Many sources are reporting that even the hospital is saying the baby is “not viable.” The Lord knows. The hospital could also now appeal the decision. Here’s a bit from the AP report:

Judge R. H. Wallace Jr. issued the ruling in the case of Marlise Munoz. John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth has been keeping Munoz on life support against her family’s wishes. The judge gave the hospital until 5 p.m. CST Monday to remove life support. The hospital did not immediately say Friday whether it would appeal.

Update 1.27.14: The hospital threw in the towel and decided not to appeal the judge’s decision. Mr. Munoz stopped the life-support around noon yesterday. Again, no mention of the baby who was being kept alive by these methods. No mention of the possibility of life coming out of these dire circumstances…

A lawyer for the family said Sunday that Marlise Muñoz was pronounced dead a short time after life support was withdrawn.

“Our client, Erick Muñoz, has authorized us to give notice that today, at approximately 11:30 a.m. … Marlise Muñoz’s body was disconnected from ‘life support’ and released to Mr. Muñoz,” said a statement from the family’s attorneys, Heather L. King and Jessica H. Janicek.


Wifely Wednesday: To Santa or Not To Santa?

A few days ago a young college friend of mine (who is full of great questions and posessing a very teachable heart) sent me the following question on Facebook: “What do you and Andrew do about Santa and the Tooth Fairy?” It was a fun question to answer, and I thought I’d share my slightly edited answer here.

Hi, Gurtrude! (Ok, so that’s totally not her name, but as long as I’m making up a name for her I thought I’d make it an interesting one.) That’s a fun question. The Tooth Fairy we definitely do, but the kids know right away that it’s us and we are just pretending something fun. With a big house full of kids, it’s important to find every possible time to celebrate the children as individuals, and losing a tooth is a great time to make one kid feel special. But, as I said, they know it’s their mom, and that’s just part of the fun. I will add that we only give them a dollar, so they aren’t exactly getting rich off of us.

Santa is another issue, though, because that coincides with the incarnation of our Savior. Our thought is, why on earth would we want to add something fake to a holiday that is already so amazing and TRUE? As I said to the kids just yesterday when they asked why we didn’t do Santa, “It would be like choosing to eat an old hot dog from the floor when someone is offering you a gourmet meal.” In other words, Christmas is so wonderful and so absolutely true that it doesn’t need anything extra. Scripture calls it “the fullness of time,” after all. At best including Santa can confuse a vitally important moment in redemption history, and at worst it could take glory away from our Savior and give it to a fairy tale.

We do have a family tradition that is similar to Santa, but happens earlier in December and is rooted in Church history as well as my Dutch heritage. On December 5 we put out our wooden shoes and on December 6 they are filled with candy and a simple gift from St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas’ Day. As with the Tooth Fairy, the kids know it’s their parents, but it’s still a lot of fun to pretend. We don’t have a problem with this little celebration because it’s not confused with any Biblical observance. And the real St. Nicholas (from whom the Santa figure evolved) was a very interesting and godly character from early Church history. From what we know of him, he was persecuted for his faith and did much good to help the poor. So on top of a little fun celebration we get to give them a dose of education, too.

Whew! That was a long answer to your question. Probably more than you wanted. These are not issues that we would necessarily condemn other parents for making different decisions about, if they made those decisions prayerfully and wisely. However this is what we have come up with for our family, and by God’s grace we hope it is honoring to Him.

Keep those good questions coming!


Politics, Fatherhood, Education, Money, Church Leadership, Evangelism, Missions…

My friends at Clearnote Church in Bloomington recorded the following videos last week. I don’t know Pastor Walker, but I was deeply encouraged and challenged by his faith. Set aside an hour and watch the two videos below…

Matthew Walker Part 1 from Clearnote Church.

Matthew Walker Part 2 from Clearnote Church.

Potential heart attacks must be avoided at all costs; potential sodomy is no concern…

Check out the concern the Boy Scouts in America show for campers arriving at their Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. Because the program at the national jamboree takes some serious physical effort, no young man with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher will be allowed to attend. If your BMI falls between 32.0 and 39.9 the Jamboree Medical Staff has to make a special exception for you to be able to attend. Such noble discrimination…

Let’s not forget that the BSA recently gave sodomites protected status: “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The BSA demonstrates their moral confusion by showing grave concern for the hearts of heavier scouts while showing reckless abandon when it comes to the sexual health of their campers. The possibility of an obese scout taking a 12-mile hike having an asthma attack is a grave concern; that a scout be placed in awkward sexual situations–team exercises, tents, swimming, showers–is a protected right. Imagine a boy scout being invited to participate fully in the national jamboree of the Girl Scouts–team exercises, tents, swimming, and showers. Do you think the mothers and fathers of those young women and that young man would be concerned for their physical well-being, not to mention the spiritual consequences? Only an idiot would say no. Only those who believe there is no real physical danger or defilement in sexual contact would say no. Only those who have no regard for the physical and spiritual good of their campers would say no.

The BSA is saying no, no, no, no, no…

Wifely Wednesday: Better Late…

IMG_0003Well here it is, 12:30 in the afternoon and I only just now realized it’s Wednesday! I’ve been busy all morning cleaning out the homeschool cupboard. Finished text books are put on the bookshelf or cycled down to the younger sibling for next year, finished workbooks are filed away in case the great state of South Carolina should ever decide to check up on what I’m teaching my children, mini pencils and those without erasers have been thrown away, new pencils are sharpened and put in the basket, craft supplies were weeded out and reorganized. And, of course, all this cleaning had the delightful effect of making my children suddenly struck with a passion to use all the craft supplies we own. Which means I’ll get to clean it all again this afternoon.

Does this happen in your house? A newly cleaned room becomes the one room that everybody wants to play in? My attitude on this was changed radically after I read a post by Rachel Jankovic on the Femina blog. In it she said,

Imagine you spent the day rearranging and cleaning up the living space in your home. You have flowers and clean curtains and fresh throw pillows and maybe a candle. You are pleased. The right lights are on. Things are good. And then, like the wolf on the fold, the people in your life descend upon your work. They peel off socks and put their feet on the coffee table. They come from afar bringing baskets of craftiness to spread out upon the couch. They pop popcorn and carelessly munch. Someone goes so far as to get out the puzzles. In such a moment, it would be easy (don’t ask me how I know) to become shrill. It is easy to see each chin-glancing popcorn shrapnel as an insult. “Don’t you value the work I do?!” “Don’t you care how long this took me?!” “Why can’t you just not do this??” Even if you don’t say it, you may feel a little despair, a little resentment, and a little “why do I even try?”.

But the truth is, we need a new perspective. It is moments like this that should give us a lot of job satisfaction. These people are enjoying you. They are enjoying your work. But, like a great dinner all laid out on the table, you don’t enjoy it without touching it. A chef would not look at dishes coming back to the kitchen untouched as a sign of success. It would not mean great things about your work. Yet this is what we want from the work we do in our homes.

I’m sure most of you have noticed the magnetic power of what you clean. Clean the bookshelf up, and everyone wants to read. Organize the little toys, and everyone wants to play with the things they have been callously walking on for days. This is a sign that you are succeeding, that your people love your work. Think of it like food, because that is how it is getting used.

So as summer vacation takes off and our children are gathered around us, let’s take satisfaction in the pleasure they take from us and from our work. It may not come in the form of adoring praise or maintaining the pristine cleanliness of our homes. More likely it will be sticky faces from the lunch we made or elaborate forts built after we read a book that inspired their inner architect. Hooray for messy, happy summer!

~Sarah Dionne

Disney and family planning…

The movement [scientists warning of overpopulation] was in such a lather that in 1967, Disney produced a movie for the Population Council, titled Family Planning. The movie, translated into 24 different languages and featuring Donald Duck, lectured viewers that if families didn’t drastically cut back the number of kids they had, “the children will be sickly and unhappy, with little hope for the future.”

-From Jonathan Last’s What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, 34